John McCain’s Sons

Talk about putting your most valuable where your mouth is! Apparently this was not ‘newsworthy’enough for the media to comment about. Can either of the other presidential candidates truthfully come close to this? …. Just a question for each of us to seek an answer,and not a statement.

You see…character is what’s shown when the public is not looking. There were no cameras or press invited to what you are about to read about, and the story comes from one person in New Hampshire.

One evening last July, Senator John McCain of Arizona arrived at the New Hampshire home of Erin Flanagan for sandwiches, chocolate-chip cookies and a heartfelt talk about Iraq. They had met at a presidential debate, when she asked the candidates what they would do to bring home American soldiers – – soldiers like her brother, who had been killed in action a few months earlier.

Mr. McCain did not bring cameras or press. Instead, he brought his youngest son, James McCain, 19, then a private first class in the Marine Corps about to leave for Iraq. Father and son sat down to hear more about Ms. Flanagan’s brother Michael Cleary, a 24-year-old Army First Lieutenant killed by an ambush … a roadside bomb.

No one mentioned the obvious: In just days, Jimmy McCain could face similar perils. ‘I can’t imagine what it must have been like for them as they were coming to meet with a family that ……’ Ms. Flanagan recalled, choking up. ‘We lost a dear one,’ she finished.

Mr. McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee, has staked his candidacy on the promise that American troops can bring stability to Iraq. What he almost never says is that one of them is his own son, who spent seven months patrolling Anbar Province and learned of his father’s New Hampshire victory in January while he was digging a stuck military vehicle out of the mud.

Two of Jimmy’s three older brothers went into the military. Doug McCain, 48, was a Navy pilot. Jack McCain, 21, is to graduate from the Naval Academy next year, raising the chances that his father, if elected, could become the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower with a son at war.

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Gary Sinise Rocks Pentagon, Supports Troops

Story by Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Award-winning actor and part-time rocker Gary Sinise and the “Lt. Dan Band” jammed for a standing-room-only crowd in the courtyard of the Pentagon this month.

“Rocking at the Pentagon,” Sinise exclaimed mid-set for a much-appreciative audience.

The band played for the 4th Annual America Supports You Military Tribute Concert as part of Military Appreciation Month celebrations. The event was televised live to troops overseas via American Forces Network.

“The opportunity to reach out and make a difference, just for a few minutes if for nothing else, in the lives of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen deployed all around the world is something that is very special and a great opportunity,” said Marine Gen. General James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The crowd was packed with soldiers, family members, civilians and veterans. Overcast skies eventually gave way to the sun, and the audience warmed up to the mix of rock, pop, and country music by clapping, waving their arms and tapping their feet on the ground muddied by an overnight rain.

Sinise and his band have toured military bases in Europe, and he has performed in Iraq three times. He heads back for his fourth trip this summer. Stateside, the band tours bases and plays on weekends when Sinise is not filming his hit TV drama, “CSI NY.” Sinise has played at about 75 installations worldwide.

“It’s very, very important that you know you are appreciated and that we’re grateful and that we’re not going to forget the sacrifices that you and your families make for our nation,” he said. “We want everybody who is watching this around the world to know that we’re here supporting you. We believe in you. We are depending on you. You are our volunteer defenders, and we never take that for granted.”

Toward the end of the concert, Sinise broke from the stage and went into the crowd, dancing and playing with members of the audience. He sat next to wounded warrior Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremy Stengel sitting in the front row and, while playing, asked how Stengel was recovering. The Marine said the concert was a good break from his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Stengel was injured in Iraq in Feb. 2007 by a roadside bomb,

“I thought it was awesome. I thought it was amazing,” Stengel said. “It’s a break for us to get away from the hospital scene. We’re at the hospital going through therapy day in and day out. We kind of need a break.”

Sinise also sidled next to Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rene Rubiella, of the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Rubiella joined in with a little “air” guitar of his own.

Rubiella was at the Pentagon following a ceremony in which he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. “It’s extraordinary. We commit our lives to freedom and supporting the Constitution,” he said. “It’s people like Gary that turn around and make us feel that we are appreciated and that we are loved and that there is a commitment from our nation that we are not forgotten,” Rubiella said.

This was Rubiella’s first time at the Pentagon. He has volunteered for multiple tours to Iraq. “I am so grateful that people take the time to commit, to volunteer their time and put on these events for our entertainment. I had a ball,” he said. “It just means the world to you. It reaches your heart.”

One of the most vocal members of the crowd, delivering several loud, appreciative “whoops” of support at the end of the show as the band played the finale “Proud to be an American,” was Army Lt. Col. Scott Turner.

“I just think it’s great what Gary does. I think he’s a true patriot,” Turner said. “I’m very hopeful that he’s reflective of all the men and women of the nation. And it’s just great that he would take his time to come out and support the troops.”

Happy Memorial Day

May we never forget our veterans and what they have done for all of us…

Best Wishes for a very happy and thankful Memorial Day!

Why Veterans Reunite

“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted at their best; men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped of their humanity. I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the military. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another. As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades….Such good men.”

Author Unknown

The American Legion Magazine – May, 2008

Naples rubbish crisis sparks health fears

ROME, Italy (AP) — The U.S. military in Naples is testing tap water and soil because of health worries from that city’s pileup of sometimes smoldering rubbish.

Samples were taken earlier this month from sinks and yards of residences used by Navy and civilian military employees, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder said Sunday.

The samples were sent to Germany for laboratory analyses, and the results are expected later this month or in early June, Snyder said.

“We just want to take a look at what the potential risks are,” Snyder said in a telephone interview.

She said Navy personnel had been anxious about possible health effects, although no link has been found so far to such complaints as rash or itchy eyes, Snyder said.

A U.S. Navy Web site advised: “We do not know the short- or long-term health risks associated with living in Naples, Italy.”

Collectors stopped picking up Naples’ trash in December because dumps are full.

Tons of garbage is blocking many sidewalks and streets in the center of Naples and its suburbs, forcing residents to sometimes wade through knee-high trash. Angry residents have taken to burning rubbish, knocking over refuse bins and dumping bags of refuse in the countryside.

Hoteliers are complaining that tourists are canceling reservations or checking out early after smelling the stench as the weather warms.

Naples daily Il Mattino reported Sunday that five cargo trains loaded with garbage left on Saturday for Germany. Railway officials declined to comment on the report.

The U.S. Naval Support Activity Web site notes that Navy authorities already in June 2007 asked the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center to help evaluate “potential health risks associated with illegal dumping and inadequate garbage collection” in Naples.

The samples are being analyzed for any presence of pollutants, including pesticides, PCBs, dioxins and metals.

“The evaluation will assess epidemiological factors such as asthma, birth defects and cancer studies,” the Navy said.

Air quality will also be studied, Snyder said.

More than 1,800 personnel and family members live off base and work at U.S. Navy facilities, including a hospital, or at the NATO headquarters in a Naples suburb, she said.

The Naples Doctors Association on Sunday expressed alarm over the potential for disease from mice, cockroaches and other insects thriving in the mountains of garbage.

The group’s president, Giuseppe Scalera, was quoted Sunday by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying that the worst health damage could come from dioxins released from burning trash, which can contaminate farm products.

Earlier this year, mozzarella from the region around Naples were found to contain higher-than-permitted levels of dioxins.

Protests by Neapolitans who don’t want incinerators or dumps opened in their area have hampered efforts to solve the problem. Authorities also blame infiltration by organized crime into the garbage collection service.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi announced he will hold one of his new government’s first Cabinet meetings this week in Naples to signal he intends to get moving on the problem.

Today is Armed Forces Day

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday
for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their
patriotic service in support of our country.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the
creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine
Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the
unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department
of Defense.

Say a prayer for all our service men and women, past, present and future!

John McCain’s Support for the 2nd Amendment

Speech to the NRA Annual Meeting
By John McCain

“When I first ran for Congress in 1982, I was proud to have the support of gun owners. For more than two decades, I’ve opposed efforts to ban guns, ban ammunition, ban magazines, and dismiss gun owners as some kind of fringe group unwelcome in “modern” America. The Second Amendment isn’t some archaic custom that matters only to rural Americans, who find solace in firearms out of frustration with their economic circumstances. The Second Amendment is unique in the world. It guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. To argue anything else is to reject the clear meaning of our Founding Fathers.

“Self-reliance is the ethic that made America great, and our Founders understood that. They knew there would be circumstances where Americans might need to use firearms to protect themselves and their families. Some Second Amendment detractors think this is a mere abstraction, or a relic of America’s distant past. But Americans exercise their Second Amendment rights every day to protect themselves from criminals, as happened in Scottsdale, Arizona where earlier this year, a 74-year-old woman defended her home from a man who repeatedly attempted to break in, extort money and threatened to set fire to her garage. The Second Amendment – and its guarantee of an individual right to keep and bear arms – is certainly not an abstraction.

“But the clear meaning of the Second Amendment has not stopped those who want to punish firearms owners – and those who make and sell firearms – for the actions of criminals. It seems like every time there is a particularly violent crime, the anti-gun activists demand yet another restriction on the Second Amendment. I opposed the ban on so-called ‘assault weapons,’ which was first proposed after a California schoolyard shooting. It makes no sense to ban a class of firearms based on cosmetic features. I have opposed waiting periods for gun purchases.”

“Like your members, I am a committed conservationist. I have long supported multiple uses for public lands that ensure they are available for this and future generations to hunt, fish and explore. Over 12 million hunters in the United States contribute $25 billion to the economy, much of it in rural areas. Hunters pay billions of dollars in federal revenue through license and other fees. Here in Kentucky, hunters spend over $400 million and support thousands of jobs.”

“Over the years, I haven’t agreed with the NRA on every issue. I have supported efforts to have NICS background checks apply to gun sales at gun shows. I recognize that gun shows are enjoyed by millions of law-abiding Americans. I do not support efforts by those who seek to regulate them out of existence. But I believe an accurate, fair and instant background check at guns shows is a reasonable requirement. I also oppose efforts to require federal regulation of all private sales such as the transfer between a father and son or husband and wife. I supported campaign finance reform because I strongly believed our system of financing campaigns was influencing elected officials to put the interests of “soft money” donors ahead of the public interest. It is neither my purpose nor the purpose of the legislation to prevent gun owners or any other group of citizens from making their voices heard in the legislative process.

“Those disagreements do not detract from my long record of support for the Second Amendment and the work we have done together to protect the rights of gun owners from the political attitudes of the moment in Washington that view the Second Amendment as a once quaint custom that must now yield to the judgment of modern enlightened opinion. We have real differences with the Democratic candidates for President. They have learned something since 2000. They don’t talk about their plans for gun control. They claim to support hunters and gun owners. But just because they don’t talk about gun control doesn’t mean they won’t support gun control. Let’s be clear. If either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is elected President, the rights of law-abiding gun owners will be at risk. They have both voted as Senators to ban guns or ban ammunition or to allow gun makers to be sued out of existence.

“It seems every election, politicians who support restrictions on the Second Amendment dress up in camouflage and pose with guns to demonstrate they care about hunters, even though few gun owners fall for such obvious political theater. After Senator Obama made his unfortunate comment that Pennsylvanians ‘cling to guns and religion’ out of bitterness, Senator Clinton quickly affirmed her support for the Second Amendment. That drew Senator Obama’s derision. ‘She’s running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment,’ he said. ‘Like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday, . . . packin’ a six shooter!’ Someone should tell Senator Obama that ducks are usually hunted with shotguns.

“Senator Obama hopes he can get away with having it both ways. He says he believes that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms. But when he had a chance to weigh in on the most important Second Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, District of Columbia v. Heller, Senator Obama dodged the question by claiming, ‘I don’t like taking a stand on pending cases.’ He refused to sign the amicus brief signed by a bipartisan group of 55 Senators arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn the DC gun ban in the Heller case. When he was running for the State Senate in Illinois, his campaign filled out a questionnaire asking whether he supported legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns with simple, ‘Yes.’

“The Heller case should be decided soon. But however that case is decided, the federal judiciary will continue to be an important forum for protecting Second Amendment rights. The next President will appoint literally hundreds of federal judges, and is likely to have the opportunity to nominate one or more Supreme Court justices.”

“Quite rightly, the proper role of the judiciary has become one of the defining issues of this presidential election. It will fall to the next president to nominate qualified men and women to the federal courts, and the choices we make will reach far into the future. My two prospective opponents and I have very different ideas about the nature and proper exercise of judicial power. We would nominate judges of a different kind, a different caliber, a different understanding of judicial authority and its limits. And the people of America – voters in both parties whose wishes and convictions are so often disregarded by unelected judges – are entitled to know what those differences are.”

“The decisions of our Supreme Court in particular can be as close to permanent as anything government does. And in the presidential selection of those who will write those decisions, a hunch, a hope, and a good first impression are not enough. I will not seek the confidence of the American people in my nominees until my own confidence is complete – until I am certain of my nominee’s ability, wisdom, and demonstrated fidelity to the Constitution.”

“But I would like to close my remarks with an issue that I know is much on the mind of Americans – the war in Iraq. Senator Obama has said, if elected, he will withdraw Americans from Iraq quickly no matter what the situation on the ground is and no matter what U.S. military commanders advise. But if we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. A reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values. Iran will view it as a victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.

The consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for premature withdrawal, as both Senators Obama and Clinton do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. Thanks to the counterinsurgency instigated by General Petreaus, after four years of terribly costly mistakes, we have a realistic chance to succeed in helping the forces of political reconciliation prevail in Iraq, and the democratically elected Iraqi Government, with a professional and competent Iraqi army, impose its authority throughout the country and defend its borders. We have a realistic chance of denying al Qaeda any sanctuary in Iraq. We have a realistic chance of leaving behind in Iraq a force for stability and peace in the region, and not a cause for a wider and far more dangerous war. I do not argue against withdrawal because I am indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families. I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later. I want our soldiers home, too, just as quickly as we can bring them back without risking everything they suffered for, and burdening them with greater sacrifices in the years ahead. That I will not do. I have spent my life in service to my country, and I will never, never, never risk her security for the sake of my own ambitions. I will defend her, and all her freedoms, so help me God. And I ask you to help me in that good cause. Thank you, and God bless you.”

Memorial Day

Memorial Day goes back to 1868 when General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, when he issued his famous Order No. 11 of May 6, 1868, directing that the graves of the war dead be decorated with flowers and appropriate ceremony on May 30th of that year.

This May 30th date was made legal in New York in 1873 and soon in many others. Only some of the states of the old Confederacy had not recognized it by the 20th century. World War I however, broadened Memorial Day, often called Decoration Day to be a time of remembrance of all departed loved ones. Memorial Day is a sacred day to all war veterans. None need to be reminded of the reason why Memorial Day must be commemorated. But what about the general public and more importantly, future generations?

Our nation’s flag flies at half-staff until noon. The Stars and Stripes marks the graves of fallen soldiers. Prayers are offered. America stops to remember those who fought and died for freedom. This is what Memorial Day is supposed to be for all Americans. A time to reflect on the past, remembering those who helped guarantee our freedom. This should be regarded as a civic obligation. For this is a national debt that can only be truly repaid by individual Americans. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifices. Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. These freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That’s why they are all collectively remembered on one special day.
Whether done individually or collectively, it is the thought that counts. Personal as well as public acts of remembering are the ideal. Public displays of patriotism are essential if the notion of remembering war dead is to be instilled in the young.

The task of those of us who have served the nation and returned to our loved ones, friends and neighbors, is to ensure that Americans everywhere remember these men and women and honor their service and supreme sacrifice.

We, the veterans of America, will never forget our friends in uniform who paid so dearly for the freedom Americans enjoy today. GOD bless them….and GOD BLESS AMERICA !!!

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